Post ombudsman: Discussion of policy is "Missing Ingredient" in paper's health care coverage
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From Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander's August 30 column, headlined "A Missing Ingredient in Health-Care Coverage":
Make no mistake, The Post has produced some stellar health-care coverage. It's exposed heavy industry campaign contributions to key members of Congress who are drafting legislation. It's revealed those with personal investments in corporations that could be affected by the health-care laws they write. And it's burrowed into thorny questions about who should be authorized to deny patient requests for expensive but non-critical medical care.
However, readers say that too many other stories have been about process or politics. That's coverage The Post must own, of course. Washington is filled with policy wonks and decision-makers.
But readers seem to be saying: What about the rest of us? Over the past month, dozens have called or e-mailed to urge more explanatory journalism.
Many have said that Post stories routinely assume a foundation of knowledge that they simply don't have. Some said that they don't understand basic terms like "public option" or "single payer." They want primers, not prognostications. And they're craving stories on what it means for ordinary folks and their families.
In my examination of roughly 80 A-section stories on health-care reform since July 1, all but about a dozen focused on political maneuvering or protests. The Pew Foundation's Project for Excellence in Journalism had a similar finding. Its recent month-long review of Post front pages found 72 percent of health-care stories were about politics, process or protests.